With each island having its own culture and character, cruising the Caribbean islands is one of the best ways to discover the true charm of the Caribbean.
You’ll find wonderful beaches and azure waters throughout the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Caribbean Islands are perfectly located geographically to allow your cruise to visit a new port or island every day or two.
The terrain on each island varies, from desert climates and coral beaches to verdant rainforests with tropical vegetation.
Many of the Islands have their own culinary specialities often connected to their heritage e.g. Creole in Martinique. So make a point of trying the local speciality. With fresh fish being landed every day, fish dishes are a popular choice.
Cruising the Western Caribbean
The western Caribbean includes the islands of Grand Cayman, Jamaica and destinations on Mexico’s Caribbean coast for example Costa Maya, Cozumel is and Progresso. Also sometimes included in cruises in this area are stops at Belize and Honduras. Key West at Florida’s southern tip is also a popular stop, particularly with cruises starting in Miami or Fort Lauderdale.
The western Caribbean is a popular choice for first time cruisers but also with returning tourists as the itinerary can be so varied as to see new places each time.
The region boasts a wonderful climate with perfect beaches. With the opportunity to explore the history of ancient civilisations and experience some eco-orientated adventures.
Activities include snorkelling, swimming with Dolphins, riding zip wires, riding a buggy into the wilderness or seeing Mayan ruins.
The area offers a wealth of opportunities for activities as well as just enjoying the white sand beaches and tropical waters.
Cruising the Eastern Caribbean
The Eastern Caribbean includes The Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and St Martin. Although not strictly in the eastern Caribbean, cruises in this area often stop at Grand Turk in Turks & Caicos and The Bahamas.
Almost all of the cruise lines offer cruises in this region usually departing from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. In the autumn or spring you can also find cruises leaving from Europe as ships are moved to start the new season.
As there are so many cruises in this area you can find a cruise to suit every budget, from cheap and cheerful to sumptuous luxury.
This area is ideal for first time cruisers as the ports of call such as Nassau, St Thomas and St Maarten are well prepared for tourists. They offer well organised tours to sites of historic interest as well as water sports and shopping.
If a busy touristy port is not up your street; don’t be put off as it is easy to get ‘off the beaten track’ and find quiet beaches and bars and restaurants populated by locals rather than tourists.
Plan you port visits by researching what they have to offer before you leave. You may want to consider hiring a car. If so, book this in advance as the demand may be very high if there are several ships in port.
The Southern Caribbean consists of the islands south and east of St Martin. They include Martinique, Guadaloupe and St Bart’s which are part of France.
Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire which are part of Holland. Also, Dominca, Antigua and Barbuda which retain their British legacy.
Further south Trinidad and Tobago retain their Latin influences.
The many islands in this area are smaller and less developed that in the Western and Eastern Caribbean. They tend to be quieter and less travelled.
The rich cultural heritage of these islands, offer cruisers multiple varied opportunities for cultural sightseeing as well as wonders of the natural world and the classic Caribbean tropical beach experience.
Cruising the Caribbean islands – by Springwood Gatwick